Yi Yi (2000)
January 19, 2020 5:34 PM - Subscribe

Members of a precariously affluent Taipei family traverse inflection points in their separate lives. The title translates as, "A One and a Two", like the count off to a song; this movie won Best Director at Cannes, Best Picture from the National Society of Film Critics, and is #8 on the BBC's list of best films of the century so far.

Much has already been made critically of the "novelistic" quality of A One and a Two, a film about the interconnecting tribulations of one extended family in contemporary Taipei. It revolves around a man whose computer firm is failing, whose wife is deeply depressed, whose mother-in-law is gravely ill, whose children are beset with problems, whose dodgy brother-in-law owes him cash. To top it all off, he has just met the person he jilted when she was a schoolgirl 30 years before: now a beautiful and elegant woman who, in a blaze of passion, reveals that her teenage angst and vulnerability are still as fresh as a daisy and demands to know why he left her all those years ago.
-- Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
There was a time when a film from Taiwan would have seemed foreign and unfamiliar--when Taiwan had a completely different culture from ours. The characters in "Yi Yi" live in a world that would be much the same in Toronto, London, Bombay, Sydney; in their economic class, in their jobs, culture is established by corporations, real estate, fast food and the media, not by tradition. NJ and Yang-Yang eat at McDonald's, and other characters meet in a Taipei restaurant named New York Bagels. Maybe the movie is not simply about knowing half of the truth, but about knowing the wrong half of the truth.
-- Roger Ebert, ebert.com
Currently streaming on the Criterion Channel.
posted by fleacircus (2 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I liked this movie. It's kind of interesting to classify. In a way it's not too different from a season of a TV family drama, compressed into one movie. But it's too spicy to be a naturalist slice of life, too restrained to be an art movie, too full of unease to be a heartwarming drama. I can imagine someone thinking it's boring and awful; like maybe it tastes like something they like, but isn't enough of it. The RT audience score is 91% tho.

All the characters feel so isolated, so unable to help each other. Yang-Yang's pictures seem a little horrifying and a perfect representation of this, a world of turned backs, but then it's flipped around and becomes like the only act of successful reaching out, I think?

One of my favorite parts is the shot of Sherry returning to her hotel room, the last time we see her, in the blurry reflection of the window. She disappears into the dark blob area, sobbing, which as they say is a big mood.
posted by fleacircus at 6:03 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


There's a pathos and bittersweetness to the movie that made it resonate with me when I watched it back in college, and makes it hard to think about rewatching now. You really have to be in a certain kind of introspective mood to get the most out of it, I think.

The subplot that got to me the most was the dad's burgeoning friendship with Ota, and the existential poignancy of that one shot where he ends up staring out at the water, alone, melancholy. Especially loved the film's use of "Ue wo muite arukou."
posted by rather be jorting at 6:45 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


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